Monday, May 20, 2019

The Thoughts of two M. A.s (1975)

From the January 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

For anyone who wants to see anti-working-class propaganda at its crudest, we recommend the press statement issued on 9th December by the “National Campaign for Discipline in Schools”; providing it is held at arm’s length with a clothes-peg over the nose.

The signatories, and apparently the Campaign’s only members at that date, are “Revd. Valentine Fletcher, M.A. (Oxon)” and “Fred Naylor, M.A., M.Sc. (Cantab)”. They begin by referring to violence, vandalism and bullying in schools and profess to want “to help individual parents and to rally support for heads of schools and their staffs”; but their real motives emerge after that. They are concerned with
  The perilous state in which the nation finds itself, and a realisation that the problems in our schools are those of society as a whole.
They name three causes of the “perilous state”: progressive education, sentimental egalitarianism, and Marxism. The last is written-about incomprehensibly but with repeated allusions to a conspiracy to destroy. “Sentimental egalitarianism” means rejecting the “natural inequalities among individuals”, and deeming “all opinions and all values . . . of equal worth” as against “a hierarchy of values—than which there is no greater anathema for the egalitarian”. And they end:
  The problem of authority in the schools is clearly related to that of authority in other areas of society, especially in industry and within the trade unions.
What there is nothing about, in some 2,500 words purporting to deal with schools, is education. Nor is there anything to explain what the authors have in mind as “discipline”. If they argued that daily whackings produce better arithmetic, their intentions would at least be clearly stated.

But their Campaign is not of that nature at all. Though the weak ploy is to enlist people’s concern about bear-gardens in schools, they are appealing to others like themselves who would like to see “equalitarianism” and dissent squashed and blind obedience enforced—in society as a whole.
  The Campaign believes that all who stand for law and order, and the progressive betterment of society by democratic means should join it in restoring sanity to education and halting the rapid movement towards the breakdown of society.
Translated from the oily, equivocal language of university theses (“custodianship of a transmissible set of moral values”) that means: Put the lower orders in their place. In due course, the lower orders will have news for Messrs. Fletcher and Naylor. In the meantime, anyone who sees or hears of this document can perform a useful service by exposing what it is all about.
Robert Barltrop

So They Say: Social Con-trick ? (1975)

The So They Say column from the January 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

Social Con-trick?
The "Economist” of 23rd November 1974 referred to the Social Compact (or Contract) as being
  so vague that there is no certain way of knowing when it is busted.
Although we can appreciate that the agreement between the TUC and the Labour Party has tended to be described by both parties in terms of what it is not, rather than what it is, if only the sceptical Economist writer had waited until Harold Wilson addressed the Labour Party Conference on 28th November, he would have learned exactly what it comprised:
  It is not a scramble in which the big battalions, the powerful and wealthy on both sides of industry or in finance, or in any sector of the community, can exercise their power in order to gain an unfair advantage.
Mr. Wilson went on to say
  The Social Contract means a fair division of our material resources, the fair sharing of sacrifices.
Now that’s clear enough surely? Mr. Wilson will no doubt be watching keenly from the wings as Len Murray takes to the stage and explains in terms of wages and unemployment levels exactly what the word "fair” means to the workers.

Upper Class extinct ?
It is reported by the astute Sir Frederick Catherwood, chairman of the British Institute of Management (Financial Times 27th November 1974) that there have been no recent sightings of that predatory species, the ruling class. He goes so far to say that
There is no longer such a thing as the upper class.
Although he does not give a precise date for the demise of this ancient order, his conclusions must spread despondency, not least among the BIM. But before they all go home, Sir Frederick may take some comfort from the "Saleroom” report immediately adjoining his own statements in the same newspaper.
 At Sothebys’ sale yesterday of the collection of the English gold coins 1700-1900 formed by Capt. K. J. Douglas-Morris RN, a record £539,390 was realised for a coin sale in London.
  Spink bought a Queen Anne five guinea piece of Vigo type dated 1703, for £26,000 a new auction record for any English coin, a George III pattern £5 piece of 1820 for £21,000, a George III pattern five guinea piece of 1773 for £18,000 . . . etc. etc.
The conclusion is obvious. Either the upper class is deliberately concealing itself from Sir Frederick’s gaze, or Sotheby’s have been dealing with those many workers who were unwilling to purchase Krugerands.

Shakey Promises
In the season of goodwill, we are reminded of the cheering lyric “We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar”.

In this context, this writer’s mind turns naturally to the debonair oil minister of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Yamani. He certainly appears to be bearing gifts, and by all accounts at the expense of the oil companies :
  I declare categorically that Saudi Arabia does not want a single dollar more than it is getting right now for its oil. Every additional dollar should go to the consumer.
(Evening Standard 20/11/74).
Yamani clearly refers to the profits made by Exxon (Esso in UK) who announced profits of £348 million in July, and Royal Dutch Shell who declared £304 million in November. Although the oil companies dismissed the gigantic figures as
distorting substantially the underlying realities.
                                        (Evening Standard 7/11/74).
Sheik Yamani remained unimpressed by their squeals and further attacked.
   What angers us is the fact that oil concerns go out with their enormous profits and make investments that have nothing to do with the oil industry. Why does an American oil company buy a chain of department stores for 800m. dollars ?
(Evening Standard 20/11/74).
Although we could suggest a reason or two, we would advise that Yamani refer direct to Saudi Arabian businessman Adnan Khashoggi who is purchasing a third share in the Bank of San Jose to add to his already
extensive interests in various other investments and property in the U.S. and middle east; and owns two Banks in Walnut Creek near San Francisco.
(Financial Times 27/11/74)
In fact Sheik Yamani’s mask of naivété slipped somewhat when he gave the real reason for his apparent benevolence toward the consumer in an interview with the German weekly, Quick:
  We are of the opinion that oil price increases harm West Germany’s economic system in such a manner that we ourselves will be hurt.
(Reported in The Times 21/1174)
Ah well, you can’t expect the season of goodwill to last forever.

Bricks and the Builder
Although the Foreign Secretary, James Callaghan, by no means meant his analogy to be taken too seriously when generously referring to Harold Wilson as
not merely a thinker, he is an architect and a builder.
                              (Financial Times 29th November 1974)
We were just wondering if he caught the article in the previous day’s newspaper where the Earl of Kinnoul warned the assembled gentlefolk of the Lords:
Many builders had simply shut up shop, until conditions improved, he added.
Nor have the builders’ hands been tied by shortage of bricks:
  Mr. Jeremy Rowe, deputy managing director (London Brick Co. Ltd.) said production was being cut by 11m bricks a week because of the building slump, and another 10m. were being put into stock every week.
(Financial Times 29/11/74)
We take it that Mr. Wilson has developed a new building technique.

Coining it in
Sir Winston Churchill’s former secretary, and present chairman of the Churchill Centenary Trust, chose a rather left-handed way of explaining why the Trust’s appeal for £lm. has met with poor results (only £150,000 raised up to December 1974) since it was launched in April 1974.
  I suppose we must blame the slow response on the economic climate. The centenary could not have come at a worse time.
(Sunday Times 1 December 1974)
We are unable to suggest a more appropriate date for Sir Winston’s birth, but at least Churchill would have taken some relief from the following paragraph in the report:
  The trust has given its certificate of authenticity to some of these objects (souvenirs and medals) and is receiving between 5 and 10 per cent from the sales. But in other cases manufacturers have gone ahead without consultation and the trust has had to rely on these firm’s own generosity. In all cases the manufacturers arc receiving the lion’s share of the profits.
(our emphasis)
Well, who else should get the profit? This is capitalism as advocated by Churchill.

P.S. I'm a Ph.D.
Socialists have long criticised what passes for education under capitalism on the grounds that it has been designed to produce no more than a working class which has been sufficiently trained to run future generations of capitalism. You can imagine the dismay of “educational experts’’ when the students fail to take the vital step of entering into wage slavery. Mr. Chris Priddle, careers adviser at the South Bank Polytechnic complains:
  Politicians say there is an economic crisis, but our order books are full. Hundreds of firms like British Leyland, ICI, Shell, Ford, and Rolls-Royce are still looking for graduates.
(Times 21/11/74).
It would be premature however, to assume that graduate students are rejecting the concept of working for wages.
  Mr. Priddle is anxious for graduates to be taught how to improve their image when applying for jobs. They are very bad at filling out forms and do not seem to know how to market themselves in interviews.’
(Evening Standard 20/11/74).
One of Mr. Priddle’s associates, Mr. Michael Rines an expert on marketing and sales sees the difficulty starting at a somewhat earlier age:
  The problem starts at school, where kids are not taught how to sell themselves and how to lay out an examination answer attractively.
(Times 21/11/74).
If there was any doubt in student’s minds that they would have to “sell” themselves, this surely lays it on the line.
Alan D'Arcy

The Advantages of Religion . . . Or, she was talking to me so I said . . . (1975)

From the January 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

Being an incorrigible listener to other people’s conversations, it is often both intriguing and frustrating wondering how a particular conversation ended. Also, sometimes it leads my own train of thoughts in a direction probably not otherwise followed.

Recently there was such an occasion. A couple of girls at my table were discussing what they were doing that evening and one of them said she was going to a talk on “The Advantages of Religion”. Now, apart from freak appearances like Billy Graham’s circus and the Festival of Light, Scientologists, the Pope’s refusal to accept that most of his world-wide flock are practising birth control, or the controversy as to whether it is right that Archbishops should be appointed by politicians, religion is not a subject to-day to which much thought is given by the majority of us; therefore this snippet set off my train of thought.

“The Advantages of Religion” — to whom?

To most Christians the church is the place to go to be baptized (i.e. accepted into the fold) married and buried. Jews regard their religion as something not only related to their “spiritual” life but also as actions and personal relations are governed by their part of their “race” and tradition. Their everyday religious teachings. To practising Mohammedans, Muslims and Buddhists, religion governs all their actions and forms the basis of their daily lives.

However, despite the differences in their teaching, attitudes and practices, the adherence to any of these religions is founded on two basic factors. The first is the unwillingness to admit that the life we have is the only one we are going to get; that there is no life after death, reincarnation or other “hereafter”, except in the redistribution of our organic matter and in the thoughts of those who knew us or to whom we have passed on our ideas. It is not difficult to understand why, living under the constant threat of war, insecurity and, in many cases, very real hardship and deprivation, people are looking for “pie in the sky when they die”. They feel that there must be something better to follow what they are experiencing now.

The second common factor is that, when faced with apparently insoluble problems or sorrow, it is of course comforting, and easier, to invoke the intervention of an all-powerful Being Above than to acknowledge that one has to rely on one’s own resources.

To sum up then; to the individual, religion is a palliative, an opiate, an apparent safety line or lifebelt thrown out on the stormy sea of life under capitalism.

The advantages to the system — the politician and capitalist, are more obvious. One thing which all religions practised in the so-called “civilized” world have in common is the teaching of humility and due respect to our “betters”, the endurance of suffering and hardship patiently in this world in the hope of better things to come. Obey your boss; work harder, listen to and follow your leaders, draw in your belts; fight for “your” country (they never do tell you which bit is yours though !). Obey your pastor, priest etc. and support your Church. The incongruity of churches preaching “thou shalt not kill” blessing men going to war and doing just that, does not seem to strike any of them. Of course. ‘your’ side is always right and on the side of God — fighting a just war — it is the ones whom you are going out to kill who are the villains. The fact that leaders of religion actively interfere with civil administration (e.g. the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Spain and Italy, the Religious Party in Israel) is accepted. So is the enormous wealth accumulated by Churches, often in the midst of appalling squalor and poverty.

At the end of my train of thought, I came to this conclusion: —

The advantages of religion to the capitalists are pretty obvious but, so far as I can see, there are no advantages in it for us — the workers. Reliance on “Someone up there” to solve our problems, and believing that the degree of our suffering and deprivation in this world will determine our reward in the next, only keeps us from doing something here and now — not to alleviate our problems, but to eliminate them — working for the abolishment of capitalism and the introduction of Socialism.
Eva Goodman

The Impotence of Reform (1975)

Book Review from the January 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

Modern Social Reforms, Arthur B. Shostak. Collier-Macmillan Publishing Co. £2.95.

This book has the presumptous sub-title “Solving Today’s Social Problems”. The fact that today’s social problems are not amenable to being solved by reforms, somehow seems to have escaped the notice of Shostak, and the numerous tinkerers to whom he refers.

Shostak poses the question as being one of finding appropriate reforms within the framework of obstacles presented by human nature. Thus it is not class interest, property relationship and the profit motive of capitalism that render reforms futile. It is merely that we need a clearer grasp of what human nature really is, in order to formulate reforms that fill the bill.

As Socialists we argue that a clear understanding of capitalism is indispensable to comprehending what is commonly called “human nature”.
Shostak is like the man who craves recognition as an ace motor mechanic, but after closely examining the old banger parked in the road, fails to discover it is out of gas. While projecting ideas as possible reforms into the 1980’s and on to the turn of the century, Shostak notes that “the taxpayers’ appetite for further costly programmes is small”. It simply is not possible to legislate at will some abstract set of concepts (however seemingly laudable) and thereby get rid of poverty, bad housing, unemployment and war. Capitalism defeats all such policies.

Reforms have to be paid for. The capitalist class and governments, which are the political power centres of that class, are dominated by the economic dictates of capitalism. Profit is the main spring of the system. Taxes are a levy on the surplus-value (produced by the working class, but owned by the capitalists). Reforms are a particular kind of investment by the capitalist class as a whole. They need a schooling system, they need fairly healthy workers, they need a network of motorways, and a modern military complex with which to warn off rivals in the struggles for world markets and resources. There must also be enough surplus-value left for capital-renewal, so that fresh exploitation of wage-labour can bring forth future surpluses. The profit motive ultimately decides the priorities.

When a boom peters out and capitalism slides into recession the capitalists become reluctant to re-invest as profit margins begin to narrow. Pressure on governments to reduce taxation builds up, and governments start to look for things to cut back on. Government revenues do not come out of some bottomless purse. They come from the surplus wealth produced by wage-labour, and are therefore subject to the economic laws of capitalism, the machinations of vested interest, and the fluctuations of world markets.

Arthur Shostak is an American author, and despite the familiar ring of it all, he is aiming his “Modern
Social Reforms” at America’s “Social Problems”. He must currently be reading reports in the American newspapers similar to that in The Guardian, (25th October 1974) which tell of a sharp recession in America with unemployment expected to rise to seven and a half per cent., and car sales slumping by twenty one per cent., compared to the same period a year ago. He must be aware that “The anti-inflationary package now on the table represents little more than a timid compromise between various warring factions advising the President,” and that President Ford is intent upon a reduced and balanced federal budget, while maintaining war expenditures, and also as The Guardian report states:
  He has been told by several of his economic advisors that he cannot have both, and at the same time provide relief for the unemployed and lower income groups.
In his eager quest for answers Shostak looks at reform patterns in Japan, Israel, Canada, Scandinavia and Britain. None of the reforms enacted in any of these countries has solved any of the major social problems engendered by capitalism. There is no reason to suspect that their importation into the United States will improve their effectiveness.

Shostak sets down four main schools of thought on social reforms. The conservative, liberal, radical and visionary. A series of tables is produced to show the positions taken by each of these on various social problems. While in his thinking, the conservatives and liberals tied to the present system, the radicals are presented as revolutionaries, who regard themselves as temporary. When however they come to spell out their demands, they get no further than the usual leftist claptrap.
  A 90% tax on inheritance and estates and tax reforms to help the working man. Free medical care for everyone. Public ownership of utilities. Strict controls on the profits of banks . . .
So for example if Paul Getty dies (despite all the benefits available to him under free medical care) and leaves £300,000,000 his heirs would have to struggle along on the mere £30 millions left after taxes.

The visionaries are billed as way-out re-thinkers whose ranks subdivide to include believers in astrology, witchcraft, Scientology, and Buddhism. When pressed for a programme, Shostak cites Theodore Roszak, who offers among other irrelevancies:
  Labour-gift and bearer exchange systems in the local economy “and” . . . neighbourhood courts in a participative legal system.
Suddenly, as though from nowhere, and out of harmony with the confusion surrounding it, comes a shaft of light. During a discussion about work, Shostak relates that he put forward
  the less popular view that the root of the inadequacies lies in the ownership of the means of production.
  And the relatively fresher view that faults the quality of the jobs themselves and would thoroughly overhaul the very meaning of the work itself in preference to mere tinkering with the mechanics of work distribution.
No reform programme can meet what is implied in that paragraph. It implies that the means of production and distribution need to be owned in common, so that work can be guided by the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. And man can direct his efforts to the common welfare of all, instead of the accumulation of profits by a few.

Finally, may we be pardoned an act of cruelty against Mr. Shostak, in order to be kind to him? He uses quotations to open his chapters. The one from a certain Todd Gitlin is particularly telling.
 Ideology shakes when it no longer convincingly interprets reality whereupon it must change to account for the new reality, or die.
The ideology of reformism is indissolubly bound to capitalism They cannot change. They will die together and make way for the reality of Socialism.
Harry Baldwin

The Passing of Lenin. (1924)

From the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the significant facts brought into prominence by the great war was the intellectual bankruptcy of the ruling class of the Western World.

A gigantic field of operations and colossal wealth at their disposal, failed to bring out a single personality above the mediocre, from England and Germany down the list to America and Roumania.

The only character that stood, and stands, above the Capitalist mediocrities, was the man lately buried in Moscow – Nikolai Lenin.

The senseless shrieks of the Capitalist henchman against Lenin was itself evidence of their recognition of their own inferiority. All the wild and confused tales that were told by the agents of the master class (from Winston Churchill to Mrs. Snowden) to suggest that Lenin was “the greatest monster of iniquity the world has ever seen,” largely defeated their object, to every person capable of thinking clearly, by their sheer stupidity and extravagance.

One result of this tornado of lies was to cause a corresponding reaction on the other side. The various groups of woolly headed Communists, inside and outside of Russia, began to hail Lenin a new “Messiah” who was going to show the working class a new quick road to salvation. Thus does senseless abuse beget equally senseless hero-worship.

From sheer exhaustion the two-fold campaign has died down in the last year or two, even the “stunt” press only giving small space to Lenin and Russia.

Lenin’s sudden death, despite his long illness, has brought forward a flood of articles and reviews entirely different in tone from those that greeted his rise to power.

The shining light of modern Conservatism – Mr. J. L. Garvin – does not know whether Lenin was famous or infamous, whether he was a great man or a great scoundrel, so, wisely, leaves the verdict to posterity to settle.

A Fabian pet, Mr. G. D. H. Cole, in the New Statesman, for the 2nd February, makes the claim that Lenin’s great work was the “invention of the Soviet”! It is difficult to understand how the editor of a journal, supposed to be written for “educated” people, should have allowed such a piece of stupid ignorance to have passed his scrutiny. The word “Soviet” – that seems to have mesmerised some people – simply means “Council.” Every student of Russia knows that the “Council” has been an organic part of the Russian Constitution since the middle of the 16th century. But there may be another explanation of Mr. Cole’s attitude. As one of the leaders of that hopeless crusade to turn back the hands of the clock (known as “The Guild System”) he sees around him the ruins and the rubbish of the various experiments in this system and maybe he hopes by claiming Russia as an example of “Guildism” to arouse some new enthusiasm for further useless experiments. His hopes are built on shifting sands.

Michael Farbman, in the Observer, Jan. 27th, 1924, takes a more daring and dangerous line. He claims to understand Marx and Marxism, and yet makes such statements as:-
  “When Lenin inaugurated the Dictatorship of the Proletariat he obviously was unhampered by the slightest hesitation or doubt as to the efficacy of Marxian principles. But the longer he tested them as a practical revolutionist and statesman the more he became aware of the impossibility of building up a society on an automatic and exclusively economic basis. When he had to adopt an agrarian policy totally at variance with his Marxian opinions, and when later he was compelled to make an appeal to the peasants’ acquisitive instincts and go back to what he styled ‘State Capitalism,’ he was not only conscious that something was wrong with his Marxian gospel, but frankly admitted that Marx had not foreseen all the realities of a complex situation. It is probably no exaggeration to say that the greatest value of the Russian Revolution to the world Labour movement lies in the fact that it has replaced Marxism by Leninism.”
The above quotation has been given at length because it not only epitomises Mr. Farbman’s attitude but also that of many so-called “Socialists.”

It will, therefore, be a matter of astonishment to the reader unacquainted with Marx’s writings and theories to learn that almost every sentence in that paragraph either begs the question or is directly false.

In the first sentence we have two assertions, One that Lenin established the “ Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” the other that this is a “Marxian principle.” Both statements are deliberately false.

Lenin never established any “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” – whatever that may mean – but only the Dictatorship of the Communist Party which exists today. In the whole of Marx’s writing that he himself saw through the press the phrase Dictatorship of the Proletariat does not occur once! This, of course, Mr. Farbman knows well. The next sentence contains a phrase that Mr. Farbman may know the meaning of, but which is idiotic nonsense from a Marxian standpoint. To talk of a Society “on an automatic and exclusively economic basis” is utterly in opposition to all Marxian teachings.

If Lenin ever made the statement attributed to him in the sentence that follows – “that Marx had not foreseen all the realities of a complex situation” – which is at least doubtful as no reference is given, that would only show Lenin’s misreading of Marx.

But the last sentence is a gem. Not only has the Russian revolution not displaced Marxism by Leninism (for as showed above Marxism never existed there) – it has displaced Leninism by Capitalism.

To understand Lenin’s position, both actually and historically, it is necessary to examine the conditions under which he came to the front. Early in 1917 it was clear to all observers that the corruption, treachery and double-dealing of the Czar and his nobles had brought about the collapse of the Army. (See M, Phillips Price The Soviet, the Terror and Intervention, p. 15; John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World, etc,).

This was the most important factor in the whole Russian upheaval, and is the pivot upon which all the rest turns.

The Romanoffs and their crew had fallen from power when an efficient armed force was no longer at their disposal. Kerensky, who replaced them, tried to keep the war going without men or munitions. Lenin obtained permission to leave Switzerland for Russia and tried to stir up a revolt in March, 1917, but this failed, and he had to fly to Finland. Confusion grew, and finally it was decided to take steps to call a Constituent Assembly to draw up a new Constitution for Russia. The Bolsheviks hailed this move and loudly protested against the dilatoriness of Kerensky, who was afraid of losing office. At the same time the various Councils of peasants, workers and soldiers began to send representatives to Petrograd for an All-Russian Congress. At once a struggle began between the Kerensky section – or Mensheviks – and the Lenin section – or Bolsheviks – to obtain the majority of representation in this Assembly. For days the struggle continued and almost to the last moment the issue was in doubt, but the superior slogan of the Bolsheviks – “Peace, Bread, Land” – finally won a majority over to their side.

A day or two before this Lenin had come out of his hiding place and placed himself at the head of the Bolsheviks.

The first thing Lenin did when in office was to keep his promise. He issued a call for peace to all the belligerents on the basis of’ “no annexations, no indemnities.” This astonished the politicians of the Western Nations to whom election promises are standing jokes.

It was at this point that Lenin made his greatest miscalculation. He believed that the working masses of the western world were so war weary that upon the call from one of the combatants they would rise and force their various Governments to negotiate peace. Unfortunately these masses had neither the knowledge nor the organisation necessary for such a movement, and no response was given to the call, except the snarling demands of the Allies that Russia should continue to send men to be slaughtered. This lack of response was a terrible disappointment to Lenin, but, facing the situation, he opened negotiations for a separate peace with Germany. And here he made a brilliant stroke. To the horror and dismay of all the diplomatic circles in Europe he declared that the negotiations would be carried on in public, and they were. Thus exposing the stupid superstition still so beloved of Communists here, that it is impossible to conduct important negotiations in public.

Of course the conditions demanded by the Germans were hard. Again and again Lenin’s followers demanded that war should be re-opened rather than accept these conditions. Radek reports a conversation (Russian Information and Review, January 26th, 1924):-
  “The mujik must carry on the war. ‘But don’t you see that the mujik voted against the war,’ Lenin answered. ‘Excuse me, when and how did he vote against it?’ ‘He voted with his feet; he is running away from the front.’”
Large tracts of territory were detached from the Bolshevik control, and the greatest blow was the separation of the Ukraine, whose splendid fertile soil would have been of immense value for the purpose of providing food.

Still the problems to be handled were enormous. The delegates to the Constituent Assembly had gathered in Petrograd, but Lenin, who shouted so loudly for this Assembly when out of office, was not running the risk of being deposed now he was in office. He had the gathering dispersed, and refused to let the Assembly meet. Sporadic outbreaks among the peasantry were a source of continual trouble, particularly as the Bolsheviks had only a poor force at their disposal. The signing of the Armistice however solved this problem. The Communists are fond of claiming that Trotsky organised the “Red Army.” This claim is absurd, for Trotsky knew nothing of military matters. The upheaval in Germany, after the signing of the Armistice, threw hundreds of German officers out of work and Lenin gladly engaged their services, at high salaries, to organise the army. By the offer of better food rations, better clothing and warmer quarters plenty of men offered themselves for enlistment. The main difficulty however was not men but munitions.

Lenin and his supporters expected that the victorious Allies would turn their combined forces on Russia. But the Allies were so engrossed in trickery, double-dealing and swindling each other over the sharing of the plunder that they largely ignored Russia. Still to show their good will and kind intentions they subsidised a set of thieving scoundrels – Koltchak (assisted by that British hero “Colonel” John Ward), Deniken, Wrangel, Yudenitch, etc., to invade Russia for the purpose of taking it out of the control of the Russians.

It was a most hopeful undertaking, this sending in of marauding bands! The peasant, who had just got rid of his age-long enemy the landlord (sometimes rather summarily) was expected to assist in restoring that gentleman. To help them in reaching a decision, these marauding bands, with strict impartiality, plundered friend and foe alike. The only result of these various raids was to unify the mass of the people in Russia in accepting the Bolshevik rule. Slowly the Russians began to gather arms. Their army was already in good order, and although the enormous distances and lack of transport prevented them reaching many places, yet whenever the Red Army met the looting bands mentioned above the latter were defeated, with monotonous regularity.

Of course compared with the battles on the western front these engagements were mere hand skirmishes, as neither side had any heavy artillery, high-velocity shells, poison gas, nor bombing aeroplanes.

A greater enemy to Leninism than any of these gangs, however, and one which had been exerting its influence for some time, now greatly increased its pressure, this was the individualistic conditions of the peasant, combined with the wants of the townsmen. Various decrees had been passed forbidding private trading in the towns and villages (apart from special licences) but the Bolsheviks had never dared to enforce these decrees in face of the food shortage. The result of this increased pressure was the famous “New Economic Policy,” that caused such consternation in the ranks of the Communist parties. In this country Miss Sylvia Pankhurst nearly died of disgust when the news arrived.

But once more Lenin was right. He recognised the seriousness of the conditions and tried to frame a policy to fit them. His own words describe the situation with great clearness:-
  “Yet, in 1921, after having emerged victoriously from the most important stages of the Civil War, Soviet Russia came face to face with a great – I believe, the greatest – internal political crisis which caused dissatisfaction, not only of the huge masses of the peasantry, but also of large numbers of workers.
  “It was the first, and I hope the last, time in the history of Soviet Russia that we had the great masses of the peasantry arrayed against us, not consciously, but instinctively, as a sort of political mood.
  “What was the cause of this unique, and, for us, naturally disagreeable, situation? It was caused by the fact that we had gone too far with our economic measures, that the masses were already sensing what we had not properly formulated, although we had to acknowledge a few weeks afterwards, namely, that the direct transition to pure Socialist economy, to pure Socialistic distribution of wealth, was far beyond our resources, and that if we could not make a successful and timely retreat, if we could not confine ourselves to easier tasks, we would go under.” (Address to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International.) (Italics ours.)
The most significant phrase in the above statement – the one we have underlined – now admits at last that Marx was right, and that the whole of the Communist “Theories and Theses” are rubbish from top to bottom.

Mr. Brailsford, the £1,000 a year, editor of The New Leader, in the issue for January 25th, 1924 says:-
  “Alone in the earthquakes of the war period, this Russian revived the heroic age, and proved what the naked will of one man may do to change the course of history.”
What knowledge! What judgement! What intelligence! Where has the “course of history” changed one hair’s breadth owing to Russia? And the above specimen of ignorance, that would disgrace a school child, is considered worth £1,000 a year by the I.L.P.! Doubtless the measure of their intelligence.

The chief points of Lenin’s rule can now be traced out. He was the product of the “course of history” when the breakdown occurred in Russia. At first – nay even as late as the publication of Left-Wing Communism (p.44) – Lenin claimed that it was “a Socialist Revolution.” He also claimed that the Bolsheviks were establishing “Socialism” in Russia in accord with Marxian principles. Some of the shifts, and even deliberate misinterpretations of Marx’s writings that Lenin indulged in to defend his unsound position have already been dealt with in past issues of the Socialist Standard and need not detain us here. To delay the victorious Allies taking action against Russia, large sums were spent on propaganda in Europe by the Bolsheviks. “Communist” Parties sprang up like mushrooms, and now that these funds are vanishing, are dying like the same vegetable. Their policy was to stir up strife. Every strike was hailed as the “starting of the revolution.” But somehow they were all “bad starts”!

When the Constituent Assembly was broken up by Lenin’s orders he had the Russian Soviet Constitution drawn up. He realised that if the Bolsheviks were to retain control this new Constitution must give them full power. We have already analysed this Constitution in detail, in a previous issue, but a repetition of one point will make the essential feature clear. Clause 12 says:-
  “The supreme authority in the Russian Soviet Republic is vested in the All Russia Congress of Soviets, and, during the time between the Congresses, in the Central Executive Committee.”
Clause 28 says:-
  “The All Russia Congress of Soviets elects the All Russia Central Executive of not more than 200 members.”
Innocent enough, surely! But – yes there is a but – the credentials of the delegates to the All-Russia Congress are verified by the officials of the Communist Party and at every congress it turns out – quite by accident of course – that a large majority of the delegates are members of the Communist Party. The others are listened to politely, allowed to make long speeches, and then voted down by the “Block.” This little fact also applies to all “The Third Communist International Congresses,” and to all “The International Congresses of the Red Labour Unions.” No matter how many delegates the other countries may send, the Russian delegation is always larger than the rest combined.

By this “Dictatorship of the Communist Party” Lenin was able to keep power concentrated in his own hands.

Lenin made desperate efforts to induce the town workers to run the factories on disciplined lines, but despite the most rigid decrees these efforts were a failure. The Russian townsmen, like the peasant, has no appreciation of the value of time, and it is impossible to convert a 17th century hand worker into a modern industrial wage slave by merely pushing him into a factory and giving him a machine to attend. Lenin’s experience proves the fallacy of those who proclaim that modern machines, because they are made “fool-proof” in some details, can be operated by any people, no matter how low their stage of development.

Another idea was tried. A number of minor vultures on the working class, of the I.W.W. and Anarchist “leader” type, had gone to Russia to see what could be picked up. There were 6,000,000 unemployed in America. Lenin called upon these “leaders” to arrange for the transport of numbers of mechanics and skilled labourers to form colonies in Russia, with up-to-date factories and modern machinery. These “leaders” pocketed their fees and expenses, but the colonies have yet to materialise.

Such was the position up to the time of Lenin’s illness.

What then are Lenin’s merits? First in order of time is the fact that he made a clarion call for a world peace. When that failed he concluded a peace for his own country. Upon this first necessary factor he established a Constitution to give him control and, with a skill and judgement unequalled by any European or American statesman, he guided Russia out of its appalling chaos into a position where the services are operating fairly for such an undeveloped country, and where, at least, hunger no longer hangs over the people’s heads. Compare this with the present conditions in Eastern Europe!

Despite his claims at the beginning, he was the first to see the trend of conditions and adapt himself to these conditions. So far was he from “changing the course of history” as Brailsford ignorantly remarks that it was the course of history which changed him, drove him from one point after another till today Russia stands halfway on the road to capitalism. The Communists, in their ignorance, may howl at this, but Russia cannot escape her destiny. As Marx says:-
  “One nation can and should learn from others. And even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement – and it is the ultimate aim of this work to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society – it can neither clear by bold leaps nor remove by legal enactments the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and lessen the birth pangs.” (Preface Vol, I. Capital.)
The Bolsheviks will probably remain in control for the simple reason that there is no one in Russia capable of taking their place. It will be a question largely as to whether they will be able to stand the strain for the task is a heavy one, and they are by no means overcrowded with capable men. But this control will actually resolve itself into control for, and in the interests of, the Capitalists who are willing to take up the development of raw materials and industry in Russia. The New Economic Policy points the way.

The peasant problem will take longer to solve because of the immense areas, and lack of means of communication. Until the capitalists develop roads and railways the peasants will, in the main, follow their present methods and habits. When these roads and railways are developed, modern agriculture will begin to appear worked at first with imported men and machines. But then Russia will be well on the road to fully developed Capitalism.

The Communists claim that Lenin was a great teacher to the working class the world over, but with singular wisdom they refrain from pointing out what that teaching was. His actions from 1917 to 1922 certainly illustrate a certain lesson that is given above, but the teacher of that lesson was Karl Marx.
Jack Fitzgerald

Slavery and Slaves. (1924)

From the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Slavery is a condition of people who are subjected, or forced, to do the bidding of other people. Subjected people are slaves; those people who dominate slaves are their masters. In the early times of savagery and barbarism, the Human Race suffered shortage of the means of subsistence; this caused the various tribes to war with each other. In these wars captives were taken, killed and in some cases eaten; hence the origin of cannibalism. In the course of time, discoveries and inventions enabled mankind to produce the means of subsistence in greater abundance, and so, it was not necessary to kill the captives taken in war.

The captured ones were kept alive and made to work for their captors; the captives became chattel slaves and were the property of their masters, known as slave holders. The masters provided their slaves with food, clothing and shelter, and so, work or no work, chattel slaves were always sure of their means of subsistence; this is an important point.

In the period of feudalism, also called the Middle Ages, chattel slavery had developed into feudal slavery, and a change in the conditions of the slaves is seen.

The feudal slaves are called serfs, or vassals; their masters, were the nobles, or Barons. The serfs, or vassals, were not fed, clothed and housed by their masters, but certain land was reserved for the use of the serf and he owned his own tools; therefore, they, the serfs, were able to produce their necessaries of life. An important feature of this period is that the slaves, having access to the land and owning instruments of production, were always sure of their means of subsistence, except, of course, when they suffered famine or pestilence. Also the masters protected their bond slaves against intruders. In return for these "privileges” the vassals had to give part of their time to producing the needs of their masters.

In the later stages of feudalism the system of capitalism began to rise, and in order that capitalism could exist and develop it was essential that the serfs be deprived of their means of living. Gradually, and in a brutal and forcible manner, the serfs were robbed of their means of living; and we see the feudal slaves transformed into wage slaves, their masters transformed into capitalists. Karl Marx, on page 761 in "Capital," says :—
  Thus the agricultural people, first forcibly expropriated from the soil, driven from their homes, turned into vagabonds, and then whipped, branded, tortured by laws grotesquely terrible, into the discipline necessary for the wage system.
On page 738 Marx deals with the transformation of the feudal slaves into wage slaves; also called freedmen.

He says:
  But, on the other hand, these new freed men became the sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their means of production, and all the guarantees of existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.
Wage slaves, then, are people who have been robbed of their means of living; therefore, they possess no property: neither do their masters feed, clothe nor house them.

In order to live, these slaves must sell their labour power to their masters, the capitalists, who, in return give them a wage on the average only sufficient to buy the means of subsistence whilst working. Thus it will be seen, if the wage slave cannot find work he will get no money; without money he cannot get the means of subsistence, therefore, he must slowly starve to death.

When the conditions of wage slavery are compared with the conditions of chattel and feudal. slavery, an exclamation arises What a change! Yes ! and a change to the disadvantage of the wage slaves, or the working class. There are, of course, alternatives provided by the masters, viz., the workhouse, parish relief, the dole, old age pensions, and, of course, a slave can beg. The masters cause the conditions of the workhouse, and parish relief, to be such that only in very extreme cases will workers use them. The dole and the old age pensions are insufficient to provide the means of subsistence; and begging is a precarious resource. The beggar is ever under the watchful eyes of the law and often finds himself in prison for striving to exist.

During the capitalistic period inventions and discoveries have arisen whereby the working class is able to produce a vast amount of the necessaries of life. But side by side with the increase in wealth there is an increase in the want and poverty of the working class; and this is because the means of living are owned by the capitalist class. Owning the means of living this class owns all the wealth produced.

We have seen the three forms of slavery and the difference between them. The chattel and feudal slaves had to endure their bondage because they had no power with which to free themselves. But the wage slaves, although they have lost the certainty of their means of subsistence, are able to obtain the power to free themselves from slavery.

Yes, the wage slaves can obtain the power to free themselves from slavery! This power can be obtained through the vote; chattel and feudal slaves were not allowed to vote, but the wage slaves are. The power to be obtained through the vote is made manifest in an election, when the different sections of the capitalist class beg for the votes of the workers in order to get into power. It is a strange thing, that the working class have the means at hand to gain their freedom and yet they use those means to put their masters into Parliament. Remarkable! By such action the wage slaves of to-day tighten the bonds of their slavery. Of course, it is obvious, the working class would not return their masters to power if they understood their slave position. How then can the workers overcome their political ignorance? By studying Socialism.

This article is a short survey of the development of slavery and slaves, and is a part of the knowledge of a Socialist. It is through studying the history of the Human Race that Socialists understand the cause of the unhappy lot of their class— the working class—and know, that the only remedy for the ills of their class is— Socialism.

The Struggle for Markets. (1924)

From the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

In January, 1924, the Manchester Guardian quoted an Exchange Washington message as saying, “Following a Conference with oil owners, President Coolidge has ordered two battleships to proceed to Mexico.”

It has been stated that the United States of America came into the great war to fight for, besides other things, the rights of small nations. The knowledge obtained in the great war about such rights, as can be seen from the above telegram, has now been put to practical use by President Coolidge. That the U.S.A. President has consulted American owners of oil wells in Mexico, instead of representatives of the Mexican people, is probably not an oversight on the President’s part, A person so high up as the U.S.A. President, cannot be expected to consult a low down greaser as to what is good for him. Other messages from the same source as the above telegram, state:

“A squadron of the U.S.A. Navy has been sent to scare the rebels from blockading the oil port of Tampico,” and again, “ It is understood that American troops are destined for the Gulf and oilfields, where extensive foreign interests were recently invaded by Huertaists.”

That these foreign interests happen to coincide with the interests of the American Standard Oil Co. is probably a happy accident. One more phase in the struggle between the Standard Oil Co. of America and the. Royal Dutch Shell is being fought out in this struggle for the exploitation rights of the Mexican oil wells.

Further Exchange Washington messages state: “That the U.S.A. have allowed armaments to be sold to Gen. Obregon’s troops, and have placed an embargo on the supply of munitions to the enemy,” who is in this case Gen. de la Huerta. “Gen. Obregon’s troops have been allowed to march on American soil in order to outmanoeuvre the enemy.” The violation of American soil by foreign troops does not seem to Have scared America’s patriots. Patriotism and the large dividends which the American Standard Oil Co. have given to its investors, evidently in this case, go hand in hand. This, however, is in the U.S.A., where, as every Englishman knows, graft, big business and Government go together. In England there has been a change of Government. The late Tory Government persistently refused to recognise Soviet Russia. The first plank in the new Labour Government’s programme, and which they have already carried out, was the recognition of Soviet Russia. That Russia has possession of oilfields, which, if concessions could be obtained for their exploitation, would be the means of obtaining a monopoly in the future, as well as huge profits which follow; that Russia is a possible huge market for British textile goods; that Russia has an abundance of raw materials which could be manufactured in Great Britain is only incidental to the fact that though leading members of the present Government have denounced Soviet rule in the past, they have now condescended to shake hands with murder, as the Daily Mail once had it.

The Manchester Guardian, the organ of the British textile industrialists, has for months past advocated the full recognition of Russia. It advised the Liberal and Labour Parties to come together for this end. This has come about. Leslie Urquhart, Chairman of the Russian Asiatic Corporation, has, as was pointed out in the Leader, of our November issue, largely blamed the late Tory Government for his failure to obtain favourable concessions from Russia, for his Company. England has beaten other countries in the diplomatic recognition of Russia, in its haste to obtain first chance in the Russian market.

The prospect of a large market for British goods and the possibility of concessions to exploit the Russian workers and mineral wealth of Russia has been too much for the cupidity of the Capitalist class.

Can it be that big business does influence Government policy in England?

The scramble for markets is becoming ever keener. For the markets that now exist are becoming less able to swallow the gigantic output of modern industrial production. More, and more, countries are becoming competitors for the markets that at present exist. In the East, India and China are gradually becoming sufficiently industrialised to produce enough goods for their own needs. Japan, having a superabundance of goods, which it desires to get rid of has long since begun a policy of annexing suitable territories in which it can dump its goods. In the Chinese market Japan has come up against other countries on the same game, namely America and England. A consortium of powers had to be formed in order to prevent war, and if possible, to divide the spoils equally.

Force will soon be the only method by which these countries can dominate markets.

To use force means war; on the other hand, unless markets are found under the present system, it means greater unemployment and poverty for you English fellow worker. Out of the two evils which are you to choose? Choose neither of them, fellow worker; instead, study the principles of the Socialist Party on the back page. If you understand and approve of them join the Party and help us to eliminate war, unemployment and other evils which are the result of the Capitalist system in which we live.   
H. A.

A Personal Chin Wag. (1924)

From the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Perhaps you think that Socialists are a group of selfish people who are envious of the riches of other folk. Perhaps you think even worse things. Let us make a voyage of inquiry together.

You and I, and others like us, go to work. Some are employed in one way, some in another. Between us we produce and distribute the things we eat, the things we wear, the buildings we live in, and those we work in; the ships and railways that carry the things we make are made and worked by people like us; furniture and ornaments, even the most luxurious, are made by people like us. If you and I and people like us were to die to-morrow, all production and distribution of goods would cease.

Who then are we who are so necessary to the world, and are yet so poor? We are those who go to work. But why do we go to work when there are others, Rockefeller and Rothschild for instance, who do not go to work? We go to work to get wages to buy the things we need; Rockefeller and Rothschild do not go to work for wages because they have the means to get the things they need without having to wait for j wages.

From whom do we obtain the wages that are so necessary for our present existence? From Rockefeller and Rothschild and people like them. But where do the Rothschilds get the means to pay us our wages? I want you to consider the answer very carefully as it will give you the key to many problems that may puzzle you. As it is so important I will make a separate paragraph of it.

A moment, or two ago I said that you and I and others like us produce and distribute all the things that are necessary to keep the people of the world alive, and to enable them to enjoy themselves. I did not use exactly the same words as I am using now, but the meaning was the same. Rockefeller and Rothschild and people like them employ us, pay us wages, for producing all these necessary goods. With the wages we receive we buy back a portion of the goods we have produced. Before going any further, I would ask you to remember, lest someone should attempt to mislead you, that we also produce the gold, the coin and the paper that make up all forms of money. Let us continue.

We buy back some of the goods we produce. The rest of the goods we produce is either taken by our employers for their personal use, or is used, like new machinery and new factories, to enlarge the capacity for future production, to carry on wars, and for other similar purposes. It is because we work, but do not consume all we produce, that Rothschild and others like him can live without working. They are able to take what we produce because they own all the means for producing and distributing wealth.

The employers are in one special class and we are in another. They belong to the class of property-owners, we belong to the class of propertyless. They look at things in a different way from what we do. When we apply for work we endeavour to obtain as high a wage as we can; they endeavour to pay as low a wage as we will take. The lower the wages they pay us, the greater, as a rule, will be the wealth going to them. You will see that this arises from the nature of the system in which we live.

You are sometimes told that we are poor because of unjust taxation or because we do not work hard enough. Do not accept such a view. We are poor because, as I mentioned above, we are robbed of the greater part of the goods we produce. We are robbed when we receive our wages because we are given back as wages only a fraction of the wealth we have produced. Our wages, as you must know so well, represent little more than will keep us and our families alive. We have nothing to spare which can be robbed from us afterwards. They who rob us are the people who own the means of wealth production and distribution.

You have heard put very shortly, but perhaps in a way that will help you to fill in what I have not had space to mention, what your position is to-day. What then, you may ask, is the remedy for such an evil state of affairs. I will answer you with one word, Socialism. Now you will wonder what Socialism is. I will tell you.

To-day with the assistance of nature you produce what is necessary for society’s existence, but this wealth is owned by your masters, as they own the means by which wealth is produced. They own these things first of all because they stole them from you, and secondly because you give them the power to retain this ownership by voting them into Parliament. Police, Army, Navy, Air Force, Courts of Justice, and so forth, are all controlled through Parliament, and they are all used to help your master to keep his hold of the means of wealth production.

To-morrow, if you wish, you can obtain control of the means of production, and arrange the affairs of society so that all those who are able shall take an equal part in producing wealth and all who live shall have an equal right to receive the best that society can give. This is Socialism. What! do you say it is impossible? But if the majority of working men make up their minds that it shall be, then Socialism will be here as .soon as you have appointed delegates and sent them to Parliament with instructions to take the necessary steps to bring in Socialism.

By The Way (1924)

The By The Way Column from the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

What abundant evidence in various forms obtrudes itself upon us in the daily press and other journals to prove our contention, that, as the Capitalist system develops, the gulf between the working’ class and the Capitalist class must ever become wider and deeper. At one end of the social scale we have insensate luxury, at the other sordid and sickening, misery such as indicated in the following reports :—
  “Sir Richard and the Hon. Lady Musgrave have left for Paris en route for the Riviera, and from there will go to Egypt, where they will spend the remainder of the winter.
  “The Hon. Ernest and Mrs.Guinness are shortly returning to England from a cruise round the world on their yacht, on which they took a party of young people.” (Westminster Gazette, 8.1.24).
By no means isolated instances, the more expensive pictorials are filled with the escapades of these wealthy idlers to whom the world is a beautiful hunting ground of pleasure,where they chase the seasons and live out their useless lives. If such is the lot of these social drones, what of the workers, the class who make possible their enjoyment ? The following are striking contrasts:
  “At last night's meeting of the Fulham Public Health Committee it was reported that a husband and wife and five children had been occupying one room for five years. Several of the family had tuberculosis.” (Same page, same date, Westminster Gazette, 8.1.24.)
  "Three millions of our people, men, women and children, are festering and rotting in slums, living three and four in a room, huddled together, the healthy in close contact with the diseased, in tenements where neither the woman in childbirth, the sick, or the dying, can be given the ordinary decencies of life.” (Mr. C. A. McCurdy, Daily Chronicle, 8.9.23.) 
The object of these quotations is not to arouse a sentimental sympathy, useless by itself, but to urge the non-Socialist reader to study our position in order that he or she may join with us to help achieve our object, a system,. in which the enjoyment of life will not be based upon the misery of others.

#    #    #    #
 “I am opposed to Socialism. I believe in the liberty of the individual and the Britishers’ constitutional right, to be a free" man.” (Sir Robert Aske, Morning Post, 14.1.24.)
  “I believe in my heart it is a God-given opportunity that the Labour movement of this country has to-day to stave off upheaval in India. . . . We want India to be the brightest jewel in the great British federation of free peoples.” (George Lansbury, quoted Democrat, 12.1.24.)
What a charming coincidence! Two “great" minds with but a single thought—and both wrong. For—“they are not free that mock their chains," even if those chains be the invisible ones of wage slavery.. If, 'tis true, “He is the freeman whom the truth makes free," alas! how many slaves must be!

#    #    #    #

The Capitalist need for raw material and markets often expresses itself in a burning desire to be friendly and restore to more stable industrial conditions a former enemy country.

Such a face-about attitude amazed many unthinking workers when the canting war cry of "never again” trading with Germany was converted into appeals for merciful treatment to aid her recovery. An analogous position presents itself with regard to Russia, the possibility of exploiting the vast mineral resources and the potential market existing in such a country makes our masters yearn to "restore trade relations":—
  “There are many who have loudly declared that 'they will not shake hands with murderers,' but are quite aware of the advantages which might ensue from the murderers' hands being shaken." (Time and Tide, 8.2.24.)
This oft repeated assertion placed the Capitalists in the humiliating position of having to eat their own words and expose their hypocrisy if they themselves were to negotiate with Russia on supposed friendly terms. But the opportunity arose of a compromise that would allow of government by the Labour Party. The latter have proved their readiness to serve Capitalist interests, as past numbers of the Socialist Standard have shown, so it was not surprising to find them ready to undertake the dirty work of the master class on this occasion—for a price—the fruits of office. Under cover of “Our first Labour Government” they could arrange a “friendly" Anglo-Russian Conference and present a labour veiled appeal to M. Poincaré for "Honour among thieves," moves which have already received blessing and approbation from the Capitalist Press.

Another reason in favour of the Capitalists helping the Labour Party to office, despite the stage thunder of their pretended opposition, is the inevitable failure of such a Party, elected as it is upon a re-hash of Liberal reforms, to solve any working class questions by action that will adversely affect Capitalists’ interests; not without reason has the Capitalist Press reiterated with wearying monotony the lie that the Labour Party is a Socialist Party, for they anticipate that when the hopes of the trusting workers fail to materialise they will be able to discredit Socialism in their eyes; we claim that while the working class do not understand Socialism, they will, under whatever guise or name, continue to support Capitalism as the only system they believe possible. To abandon one incorrect position to take up another equally unsound—or the same position with but a change of name, leaves the workers—as they were.

#    #    #    #
  “I am quite satisfied that a lot of the housing trouble is caused through young women staying at home instead of going into domestic service." (Judge Crawford, Southend County Court, Daily Chronicle, 11.2.24.)
Such self satisfaction does not require proof or precision of statement. That might mean admitting that it is reserved for the daughters of the working class to enjoy the delights of domestic drudgery.

Our learned beak has also run a very great risk of being called to order for grossly insulting the young ladies of the "Upper Ten,” who might feel hurt by being included among those who bring this trouble (sic) upon us by refusing to be slaveys. Alas! it is the workers who build both the mansion and the slum, but while they remain content to be servants, domestic or industrial, to a class they wrongly think they could not live without, they will accommodate that class with luxuriously appointed residences, while permitting themselves to be herded in sunless barracks and foul smelling jerry built shelters. Housing problems have no separate existence from other working class problems. They will be solved when that class undertakes the task itself instead of waiting for “somebody to do something.”'

The Communist Wreckers (1924)

From the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Towards the end of the war there was a small but growing body of workers who viewed with ever greater disgust the Labour Party, which they had previously supported. These Trade Unionists who had been tricked into enthusiastic approval of the war by appeals to their patriotism and to their natural sympathy for “defenceless” Belgium, had their suspicions aroused by shameless profiteering at home, and by rumours of secret treaties between the Allies. The discontent was fanned by the daring seizure of power by the Bolsheviks.

The workers found themselves gagged and blindfolded by D.O.R.A., bound in industrial conscription and flung into the war machine. They saw all the liberties for which they were asked to fight taken from them, and the armed forces used to intimidate men at home who made spasmodic efforts to retain some few of their hardly won safeguards against workshop tyranny. When the war ceased and the soldiers returned, discontent grew in spite of attempts to set ex-Service men against the rest. They were beginning to think, and their anger was turning against the leaders and the policy of the Party which had betrayed them; against the Clynes’s and Thomases who had sold them for honours and turned the Labour Party into a recruiting machine, and against the minor officials of the Trade Unions who had bought immunity from military service themselves by defending and assisting the better known labour leaders in the work they were doing for successive Capitalist Governments. The workers were slowly groping their way to a realisation that these patriotic braggarts who were hand-in-glove with the ruling class were not fit and proper guides for the workers in their struggles; and always fresh evidence was forthcoming in campaigns for increased production, for making Germany pay, etc., led by Labour men. (It is interesting to note that Clynes is still an unrepentant advocate of increased production in spite of our 1½  million unemployed. See Current Opinion, Jan., 1924.)

Here then was material for the building up of a really powerful revolutionary movement ; but out of this ferment we got, instead, the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Worshipping, without troubling to understand, the very real achievements of the Bolsheviks, the leaders of this Party trumpeted forth their supposedly brand-new principles of working class action.

To hell with that “bourgeois shibboleth” Democracy! Hail the “Dictatorship” and revolution by a minority of intellectuals! Down with Parliament; “the Soviet form of government” is the “historically necessary form of this dictatorship.” (Statutes of Communist International, August, 1920.) Let us prepare for the armed struggle, let us form communist groups in the army and navy. War to the death against Henderson and Clynes and all the “lackeys of the Bourgeoisie.”

We, poor hidebound creatures, thinking that Socialist propaganda was still useful and necessary, were “cave-men” ; we were stranded on the mud-flats of  “Bourgeois ideology” (what a godsend that word "Bourgeois” was to the ranter as a cover for his ignorance of Socialist principles); we did not move with the times, and were unaware that Capitalism had crashed about our ears, and that we were plump in the midst of a “revolutionary situation.” In short, they were sorry for us, but we were simply played out.

So they had their glorious fling. In the joyful exuberance of youth these blind dreamers preached the necessity of “living dangerously”; they tickled themselves nearly to death with thrilling conspiracies and landed many of their followers needlessly in jail (usually themselves keeping well within the laws of that “myth” parliament.) They planned insurrections and drilled with broomsticks in secret places. They opposed MacDonald and Morgan Jones at bye-elections, furiously denouncing them for their infamy and frightening nobody but the ignorant and nervous readers of the Morning-Post. They went about preaching Sovietism and did great harm by butting in with this propaganda whenever an industrial dispute occurred. Each succeeding strike or lock-out was without hesitation (or thought) greeted as the revolutionary crisis, and as each passed without their hopes being fulfilled so their wrath against the criminality of labour leaders became more violent and uncontrollable.

They organised spectacular boycotts of the export of arms for wars in Russia and Ireland with “terrific” success. The boycotts only failed in the quite minor respect that the arms went through. (Communist, October 7th, 1920.)

They helped to organise the unemployed and were even more disastrously futile. This is their own estimate of their work :—
  “The unemployed have done all they can, and the Government know it. They have tramped through the rain in endless processions. They have gone in mass deputations to the Guardians. They have attended innumerable meetings and been told to be ‘solid.’ They have marched to London, enduring terrible hardships. . . . All this has led to nowhere. . . . In weariness and bitter disillusionment, the unemployed movement is turning in upon itself. . . .” (Workers’ Weekly, Feb. 10th, 1923.)
Consistent only in failure, the Communists were forced to find fresh stunts to hold the attention that their plentiful supplies of money had won for them.

In due course they were ordered to stage the “United Front” farce. They had to eat their bold words and line up with “Capitalist flunkeys” in the Labour Party. They had to prove themselves constitutionalists in spite of all their brave speeches, and had to humble themselves at the feet of Henderson and Ramsay MacDonald. It is only fair to say that some at least of them did so with every sign of shame; they excused themselves by saying that they wanted to “shake Henderson’s hand only in order to get hold of his throat.”

Later still all pretence was dropped and at the 1923 elections we find quite a number of Communists running as official Labour candidates. We find Mr. W. Paul, sometime firebrand, going to the poll with an election address graced by a message from Ramsay MacDonald (Socialist, Jan., 1924). We have these erstwhile Bolsheviks who were once too revolutionary to shake the “bloody hands” of the “Social patriots,” boasting of having given unqualified support to the worst of them, to Thomas, Clynes, and the rest. We have Harry Pollitt, writing in the Workers’ Weekly (Dec. 21st, 1923) to expose the latest trickery of Frank Hodges, and confessing that “we did not expose Mr. Hodges during the Election because we did not desire to split the workers’ vote. . . ” His article has a postscript, “Miners, away with this man !” Does Pollitt think that Frank Hodges cares twopence about people who keep their exposures until after the Election? He is now Civil Lord of the Admiralty and can snap his fingers at the people who might, had they known him, have checked his career at the polling booth. His power to do harm to the workers was increased by the deliberate action of these Communists. Do they anticipate that Frank Hodges will now organise “Communist nuclei” in the ranks of the men of the Navy?

And what has happened to the Soviets? You will search their Election literature in vain to find mention of Soviets now. They, with minority action and armed insurrection, have gone into the discard with other of their “brand-new” principles, which were really very old. Tom Bell, Editor of the Communist Review, an official C.P. organ (Jan., 1924), comments on the Election and jettisons almost all the remainder of them.
  “The advent of a Labour Government, even of a Liberal type, would nevertheless be a matter of tremendous importance in world politics. For one thing, it would help to spread confusion in the camp of the swashbuckling reactionaries now rampant in Middle Europe. This, in turn, may open a period of democratic pacifism, which would have the effect of stupefying such large masses of the working class, instinctively yearning for peace, as to postpone any revolutionary action for a decade, and certainly once the workers are affected by the illusions of pacifism and reformism,  and that upon an international scale, Capitalism throughout Europe may very well strengthen its position. A Labour Government, therefore, in Great Britain, especially supported by Liberalism, with its repercussions on the Continent, and particularly on that of the social democratic elements in Germany, might conceivably give rise to that era of  ‘Wilsonism' predicted by Comrade Trotsky at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International. That is a prospect to which we Communists cannot shut our eyes and ignore.”
We, who were “behind the times,” observe with some bewilderment Communists assisting into power a Labour Government;, which may have the effect of “strengthening Capitalism” and postponing “any revolutionary action for a decade.”

After affirming that “MacDonald, Webb and the other Fabian leaders of the Party will strike the road of  ‘Wilsonism.’ ” Tom Bell goes on to say that:—
  “As things are, the proletarian opposition to the Fabianism of MacDonald, Webb and the dominant Parliamentary leadership falls to Wheatley, Maxton, Johnston, Kirkwood, and the other proletarian element,”
who, he says, are
  “already committed to the policy of a fight to a finish with Capitalism.”
It is cheering to know that working class interests are in such safe keeping. Wheatley, the Jesuit, who, according to his Election address, sees the cause of our troubles in our not having “an unselfish ruling class,” and who wants to lead us “along a safe and sane course ” of the Labour Party, which is going to benefit “shopkeepers and every other class “; Maxton, whose Election address proclaims higher wages as the solution for unemployment, and who seeks to divide the workers on the Capitalist demand for Scottish Home Rule; Johnston, who condemns repudiation of financial obligations to bond holders entered into by Capitalist Governments as “dishonesty” (Forward, Feb. 11th, 1922); dishonest to expropriate the robber class! Kirkwood, who at the Election also prosperity promised to “merchants and manufacturers” and “every other class” (Election address.) These are the broken reeds on whom the Communists tell you to depend. Is their present advice more reliable than their past action would lead you to expect? In the Workers’ Weekly (Jan. 11th, 1924) Albert H. Hawkins, a C.P. official writes as follows :—
  “In the December issues of the Communist Review and Labour Monthly, no fewer than four members of the Party E. C. attempted to explain the underlying causes of the General Election, and each one had a different explanation. This tragedy was only surpassed by the greater tragedy that very few Party members appeared to notice the confusion of thought. It would appear that we are losing the arts of political discussion and criticism.”
Not one God but four Gods; not one United Front, but four United Fronts !

And these are the “intelligent minority,” the men of “first class brains” who were to be your heaven-sent guides.

In these few years they have revived a number or long-rejected policies and proved their futility once again; they have multiplied confusion in the ranks of the working class and boxed the political compass; and worst of all they have rallied the growing mass of discontented workers, led them up half a dozen blind alleys and then manoeuvred them back to where they were in 1919, in the ‘Labour Party. As the Daily News says (Dec. 10th, 1923), for the Labour Party to keep these elements where they can do no more harm is a “laudable and valuable service.” This Capitalist journal ought, however, if it would be fair, to give some of the credit to the leaders of the Communist Party of Great Britain, who, seeing that all of their candidates failed to get in, have so far been very inadequately rewarded for their unconscious services to the Capitalist class.
Edgar Hardcastle